Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Posts Tagged ‘American Bar Association

Boycott BigLaw

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Total Black: $66.11
Total Red: $230,859.71

I’ve been thinking over the past few days about large corporate law firms.  About some of the changes that have already occurred—like attorney layoffs (read: firings) or deferrals (read: delayed firings).  Blogs like Above the Law and Law Shucks have detailed the dramas and charted the cuts.  According to Law Shucks, a website tracking law-firm layoffs, including both associates and staff, law firms have laid-off over 14,000 people since January 2008.  This, in an industry where layoffs were never public, always shame-ridden, and sometimes career-ending.  Nevertheless, once the tides began to turn, associates were the first kicked to the curb. Then came staff layoffs. Then more associate layoffs and staff layoffs until finally firms thought up the Great Procrastination, punting the issue altogether by deferring associates and providing stipends all along hoping the economy rebounds in the meantime or the associates decide not to return.  And now, to add insult to injury, one law firm, DLA Piper, has decided to restructure how its associates earn their salaries—not their bonuses—but their salaries.  According to Above the Law, starting in 2010, roughly 10-15% of an associate’s salary will be withheld and made contingent upon partner satisfaction with associate performance.  When do we say enough is enough? Keep reading . . .

My First Client

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Total Black: $59.57
Total Red: $230,644.12

I met this afternoon with the former pro bono client to discuss her lawsuit.  I touched on this matter in Pro Bono Publico, but didn’t give the whole story.  She had been evicted in 2007 and spent much of that year trying to get her personal property out of her former apartment.  Her landlord, and the building superintendent, however, made life miserable for her and routinely denied her access.  Then one day the building superintendent removed her property and put it into a self-storage facility, but under his own name.  When she came by with a moving van to retrieve her property, neither the landlord’s management company nor the super would tell her where it was.  Instead they demanded money, presumably to cover the storage costs.  Using the process of elimination, she tracked down the storage company in the area and demanded return of her property.  But since the storage company had a contract for storage space under someone else’s name, they wouldn’t release her property.  Months later, after the storage bill went unpaid, the storage company sent out auction notices.  They were about to sell all of her personal belongings to the highest bidders to recoup the unpaid storage costs.  That’s when I, as an associate at a large law firm, was brought in to stop the auction and help her recover her property.  Unfortunately, it morphed into a lawsuit and now, over a year later, I’m back in the driver’s seat of this case, steering it to some sort of resolution.  Given my own recent interaction with corporate landlords, I’m determined to see her prevail.  When did running a business become anathema to decency and respect?  Or maybe they never went hand-in-hand? Keep reading . . .